But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.
In my experience, children are the most beautiful way to learn about who we are supposed to be. Their simplicity counteracts the way we tend to complicate things; their joy works in place of our stress; their innocence remind us that we, too, once approached the world free from fear and bitterness. I currently work with kids and youth in both of my jobs, and have continued to watch children for a couple of families I began babysitting for in college.
The children I have known the longest and see the most frequently are my dear friend Heidi’s children. Heidi was my former Art History academic advisor and internship director. She has always been (and continues to be) a mentor, role model, encourager, fellow wine enthusiast, friend, and above all, sister-in-Christ. I have had the honor of learning from her beyond the world of academia, as she has included me in her family for the past two and a half years. Aside from my admiration of her as all of the aforementioned, I deeply admire the way that she parents. I have known her two children, Jacob and Catherine, since before Jacob knew how to say his own name. I have been with them through fevers, smiles, holidays, meals, and seasons. I have picked them up from school on good days, cranky days, sunny days, and blizzard-y ones. I have seen these two littles learn, walk, fall, succeed, tell stories, pray, laugh, cry, and grow. And as if these preciously witnessed moments aren’t already enough of a testament of God’s presence, they continually bring me back to the present moment because I don’t want to miss a second of who they become.
While Catherine has her own room, she sleeps each night in the top bunk of the bunk bed in Jacob’s room. Whenever I put them to bed, they request that I lay on the floor until they reach the point of slumber. As I put them down the other night, Catherine told me that I must see what was on the bed in her room after they fell asleep. I laid on my back and stared at the ceiling until their breath steadied into those tiny snores that I’ve come to know so beautifully. Then, I headed to Catherine’s room to find any and every toy that she owned on top of her bed. Peppered amidst her many toys were drawings of each individual creature, complete with a name for every single one.
Witnessing all that she had created and named brought me to tears. This sweet, sweet girl, (who is growing up far too quickly), put the time and energy towards intimately experiencing each one of her creations. She created and formed each illustration, naming each one as her own. What a reflection of the God that we know; a shadow of the same God who intricately make us and names us as his own.
She holds these things dear, and knows them by name.
I went back into Jacob’s room and unbeknownst to them, I laid on the floor a little while longer. Soon they will be old enough that they will not need me to lay beside them and await their well-earned slumber. In an instant, they will not need anyone to watch them at all. However, I hope and pray that they never lose their depth of peace and creativity; rather, that they grow even more deeply into them as a continual reflection of the One who created them. The One who knows them by name.
- Erin // @drews_barrymore